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DIY – From Blobs To Birds

I was testing out some watercolor combinations and ended up with a number of splotches and blobs on my paper. A little playing with these and I ended up with some cute little birds.

Two little birds made from watercolor blobs.

Two little birds made from watercolor blobs. Mother and son?

It’s really simple. Make some somewhat circular watercolor blobs on a paper. Outline the blobs with a waterproof marker. Then add details like dots for eyes, squiggles for the tail, a triangle for a beak, lines for the legs and feet, and possibly a wing.

These little birds are so easy to make. Just a watercolor blob and a few lines.

These little birds are so easy to make. Just a watercolor blob and a few lines.

These are so cute. They can be added to envelopes, place cards, journal pages and so much more. I think these would make a great children’s activity.

A page from my sketchbook showing a few birds made from blobs of watercolors.

A page from my sketchbook showing a few birds made from blobs of watercolors.

I am pretty sure I saw something like this somewhere, but I can’t remember where, probably on the internet. It might have been done with fingerprints. Anyway, play around with this and come up with your own playful little birds.

Enjoy, Candy

Studio Snapshot – New Earth Spirit Vessel: Embrace

A couple of weeks ago, I showed the latest Earth Spirit Vessel I was working on. Well, last night I finished it. I have named it Embrace.

Earth Spirit Vessel, Embrace, contains 688 individual pieces of hand folded papers.

Earth Spirit Vessel, Embrace, contains 688 individual pieces of hand folded papers.

Looking in from the top of Earth Spirit Vessel, Embrace. All the green papers are hand painted paste papers.

Looking in from the top of Earth Spirit Vessel, Embrace. All the green papers are hand painted paste papers.

To see photos of it in its early stage see: Studio Snapshot – Starting Another Earth Spirit Vessel

Enjoy, Candy

Pen and Ink… Just Inking Around

Watercolor & Ink Demo

“Inking” – as in drawing with ink.

Hi!  I’ve been studying up on working with ink in preparation for my upcoming demonstration for the Society Of Southern Oregon Artists.  And, its coming up this Monday!  Note to me…that’s SOON!

SOSA Inking Demo

But I’ve been preparing.  And, besides, how hard can it be to stand in front of a room full of people and talk while painting?

Exactly; for some of us it might be easy.  Not so for me.  So I’m arming myself with knowledge!

Dip Pens

I decided I ought to know more about my materials and dip pens in particular.  “Old school” time – and its really fun!

The reasons I’m working with dip pens and nibs follow:

  • I had several laying around my studio.  Yes, several stylus (styli?) and nibs just laying around in my studio waiting to be appreciated and used.
  • I like how dip pens and nibs are sensitive to the touch and expressiveness of the artist.
  • I had ink, Higgins “Magic Ink” in black.  I also have some acrylic inks but am not using them for this demo.
  • So, you can draw the conclusion —  I didn’t have to purchase new supplies!  I like using supplies I have around the studio and house.
Working With Ink: Mapping Nibs

My Collection of Mapping Nibs; Comic Nib for Comparison.  Please note, the nibs are not in any particular order.

Something Special About His Nibs

One of the most exciting things I found out about my supplies is that I have some “vintage” nibs.  Did you know that there are such things?   These nibs were my father’s – artist John Stermer.  I cleaned them up and they work great!  As a matter of fact, several looked almost brand new.

Working with Ink: Dip Pen Nibs

My Collection of Comic or Regular Nibs Plus one Calligraphy Nib.  Note, the nibs don’t necessarily align with the list of nib types.

Dip Pen Tips – For Using

I thought I’d share some tips for working with dip pens.

  • Keep your nibs clean; they work better.  The ink flows and it is ever so wonderful!
  • The nibs are designed to be held a slant, about 45 degrees.  They don’t work quite so well on the vertical.
  • Draw moving the pen toward you; the nibs glide.
  • You can wear out a nib going back and forth.  They work better when you draw in one direction – toward you.
  • You can dilute some inks as much as you like.  Even a little bit of water can enhance flow.
  • The nibs work better on smoother paper.  I have tried using dip pens on rough watercolor paper and the ink does not flow as well. Its all a matter of taste, though.  Whatever works for the artist.
  • When you’re done with your pen, remove the nib.  Store dry.

About the Ink

I use Higgins Black Magic Ink.  It is waterproof and fade proof.  That means, for example, after the ink dries, you ought to be able to paint over it with wet watercolor with out lifting.  However, I did manage to get a smear this morning.  I have no idea why; something must have been not quite right.  Generally speaking, though, it does work as advertised.

There are other inks that are not waterproof.  They can be great, but I haven’t been experimenting with them.  They are beyond the scope of my  upcoming demonstration.

Materials: Ink, watercolor, paper, dip pen and brushes

Supplies:  Ink, watercolor, paper, dip pen with nib attached, watercolor brush and ink brush.

My Process

Back to the demonstration.  My process for incorporating graphite, ink and watercolor is as follows:

  • Graphite:
    • Draw with graphite first.  This is the most important phase.  I have to resist the urge to move on to ink and watercolor too soon.
    • Its easier to make drawing corrections to graphite drawings.  And, if there is a problem with the drawing, so goes the painting.
  • Ink:
    • I re-draw my subject with ink, though I don’t need to re-draw every line.
    • I emphasize major lines or nodes (junction points).
    • I like to use ink to map out direction or movement in the drawing.
    • I cross hatch to ensure I understand the value (light/dark) pattern of the subject.  Sometimes this is a fast phase; sometimes I want the ink to be the focus so I am more deliberate.
  • Watercolor:
    • Poetry in color!  This is splishy-splashy fun time.  It can be the hardest phase too!
    • I concentrate and work on using the paint to enhance the image.
    • The trick is to use enough to capture a feeling; not so much watercolor as to kill the poetry.

Single Best Tip

The best tip I can offer:  if you have a dip pen in your studio, give it a try!  You might have loads of fun!

Ink study

Study, Watercolor & Ink

Assorted Links:

On cleaning and care of the nibs.

  • Care and Feeding of the Calligraphy Dip Pen.  Even though the author talks mainly about calligraphy (italic) pen nibs, the same principles apply to point dip pen nibs.  I found a suggestion to clean ink pen nibs with ammonia based glass cleaners in this article.  This is for pen nibs that have caked on ink.  Ammonia window (glass) cleaners work wonders!  Brought my nibs back to clean as new!
  • Guide to Nibs and Nib Holders .  Provides a good over-view of the types of nibs and holders.

 

 

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The post Pen and Ink… Just Inking Around appeared first on Margaret Stermer-Cox.

Helen Hiebert’s New Calendar for 2017

Paper artist Helen Hiebert has a Kickstarter campaign going on to fund her new 2017 Calendars. These are not your ordinary calendars, each month includes a paper project along with instructions.

This is the cover of Helen Hiebert's new 2017 Calendar.

This is the cover of Helen Hiebert’s new 2017 Calendar.

The calendar is filled with fun paper projects to enjoy each month. Every page features photo of the completed project, an interesting paper quote, a list of materials and tools you’ll need to complete the project, plus step by step photos and easy-to-follow instructions.

This is December's calendar page.

December 2016 is a bonus calendar page, so there are actually 13 paper projects included in this calendar!

To purchase your own calendar, check out: Helen’s Kickstarter Campaign. I purchased the calendar along with the custom paper pack. Delivery is expected sometime in October. I can hardly wait!

Enjoy, Candy

Studio Snapshot – More Playing With Paper Cutting

I haven’t spent much time in my studio this past week as I was camping in the high desert of Oregon. It was a wonderful time for me to relax and commune with nature. It was very restorative and I now have a lot more art energy pent up. I’m ready to start working on my art with a new vigor.

After cutting these flowers, I put paste papers behind the cut out portions to give them each unique colors and patterns.

After cutting these flowers, I put paste papers behind the cut out portions to give them each unique colors and patterns.

What time I did spend in my studio was playing around with the paper cutting I started last month. I made a few more flower designs and played with putting some of my paste papers behind them the cut out areas.

A single hand cut flower backed with painted paste paper.

A single hand cut flower backed with painted paste paper.

I like the look of these and will continue to explore paper cutting. I am sure this is just the beginning of a new addition to my paper addiction.

Hand cut flowers backed with painted paste paper.

Hand cut flowers backed with painted paste paper.

For details about how I cut my cards, check out my blog post: DIY – Playing With Paper Cutting.

A single hand cut flower backed with painted paste paper.

A single hand cut flower backed with painted paste paper.

I photographed my cards on one of my paste papers. To learn more about my paste papers, check out my blog post: Making Paste Papers: Part One.

Hand cut flowers backed with painted paste paper.

Hand cut flowers backed with painted paste paper.

Enjoy, Candy

SOSA August 2016 Meeting

SOSA August 2016 Meeting : sosa logo southern oregon society of artistsSOSA August 2016 Meeting

The Southern Oregon Society of Artists (SOSA) holds its regular meeting at the Medford Public Library on August 22nd at 6:30 pm.  Margaret Stermer-Cox will be demonstrating. All artists are welcome.

Margaret Stermer-Cox to Demonstrate Watercolors

Margaret Stermer-Cox is a highly trained and recognized watercolor artist. Monday evening will give us a window into her approach of joining ink with layers of watercolor. Her favorite subject is her imagination…taking life images and rearranging them in a new way.
With purpose and color, her success can be traced to her extreme drawing skills.  Trained at the arm of her New Mexico artist father, she’s a signature, juried and associate member of several watercolor societies as well as a respected juror and show curator.

Monday we will watch her add a line, a drip, a dot…and a little bit of mystery.

DIY – Washi Tape Wrapped Pencils

The last time I was up in Portland, I picked up a couple of rolls of paper washi tape at Collage, an art supply store. I didn’t know what I would do with them when I bought them, but I knew I’d figure out something. Yesterday I used the washi tape to wrap pencils.

These two pencils were wrapped with paper washi tape.

These two pencils were wrapped with paper washi tape.

Washi tape is a paper tape that comes in lots of colors and designs. It comes in lots of different widths too. There are so many ways to use this tape. I’ve been afraid to buy too much of it because I’m afraid it could become quite addictive. Other than adding it to decorate envelopes, this is my first attempt at using it.

I cut my washi tape almost the length of my pencil, then started wrapping it around the pencil.

I cut my washi tape almost the length of my pencil, then started wrapping it around the pencil.

Usually I wrap my pencils with scraps of decorated paper (for instructions on that see: Paper Wrapped Pencils). When wrapping pencils, I use acrylic matte medium and it can get a little messy. Using washi tape to wrap pencils is both faster and less messy.

I taped the washi tape on itself to make for a wider tape that would wrap around the pencil.

I taped the washi tape on itself to make for a wider tape that would wrap around the pencil.

I started by cutting my washi tape just a little shorter than my pencil, then wrapping it around the pencil. That worked fine for my first washi tape which was wide enough to wrap around the entire pencil. For the narrower washi tape, I simply taped the tape to itself to make a wider tape. It worked wonderfully.

The finished washi tape pencil.

The finished washi tape pencil.

Then I sharpened the pencils and I was done. I think I’ll visit Collage for more washi tape the next time I’m in Portland. They have the largest selection of washi tape that I’ve seen at any retail store.

Enjoy, Candy

Studio Snapshot – Starting Another Earth Spirit Vessel

This past week I started another Earth Spirit Vessel. There’s actually a lot of work that needs to be done before I start building the vessel itself. For this vessel, I chose a pure white paper and combined it with painted paste papers of various shades of green with gold highlights.

This is the beginning of another Earth Spirit Vessel.

This is the beginning of another Earth Spirit Vessel.

I started out with  papers that were 19.5″ by 25″ and then cut them into 2″ by 4″ pieces of paper. On 25 of the pieces of paper I wrote inspirations and quotes related to Nature and Mother Earth.  I then hand folded each of the papers nine times. You can see the triangular folded pieces in the above photo.

This is one of the 25 quotes that I calligraphed for this Earth Spirit Vessel.

This is one of the 25 quotes that I calligraphed for this Earth Spirit Vessel.

After all the preparation, I got to start putting the Earth Spirit Vessel together. I built it one row at a time.

I don't yet have a name for this Earth Spirit Vessel. I think the name will come to me as I continue to build it and decide what I'm going to do with the green as far as a design.

I don’t yet have a name for this Earth Spirit Vessel. I think the name will come to me as I continue to build it and decide what I’m going to do with the green as far as a design.

After I got each row in position, I took off one folded piece at a time and glued it to the piece below. The gluing is not actually necessary, but it means that the shape of the vessel stays intact. Note: I only raised boys, so I know how easily they could dismantle something like this. And although I offer to make my Earth Spirit Vessels without glue, no one has ever taken me up on the offer. I think that’s very smart of them.

View from above of my latest Earth Spirit Vessel in progress.

View from above of my latest Earth Spirit Vessel in progress.

Yes, it does take a lot of work to make each vessel. It’s a wonderfully meditative process and I truly enjoy making each and every one.

Enjoy, Candy

Pilot Flex Extra Fine Fountain Pen

I have been looking for a flexible fountain pen for a long, long time. I have tried many fountain pens, and purchased a number of them. I used them, but kept looking for one that fit me. I’m not sure if it has anything to do with being a leftie, but the perfect fountain pen seemed elusive, until now.

I love my new Pilot Flex Extra Fine Fountain Pen.

I love my new Pilot Flex Extra Fine Fountain Pen.

Whenever I see someone selling fountain pens, I always ask if they have a flexible fountain pen with a pointed nib, not a broad nib. Greg Minuskin of Nib Retipping was the first vendor who said, “yes, try this.” No fountain pen I have tried has ever come close to this much flexibility. I fell in love with the pen as soon as I tried it out.

My Pilot Flex Extra Fine Fountain Pen.

My Pilot Flex Extra Fine Fountain Pen.

I bought the pen 23 days ago and have used it every day since. It’s been the perfect tool to practice my pointed pen calligraphy. With the fountain pen, I can sit anywhere and not have to worry about spilling ink. When I use a dip pen, I always sit at my drafting table in my studio. It’s easy for me to spill ink, so I am careful not to have open bottles of ink anywhere but in my studio. I learned this from experience and a few unintended spills.

My favorite way to practice with my new fountain pen is to sit in my chair in the living room with my Rhodia dot pad and just write whatever comes into my mind. It’s so relaxing, it doesn’t even feel like I’m practicing.

I love the Rhodia dot grid pad for practicing with my new Pilot Flex Extra Fine Fountain Pen.

I love the Rhodia dot grid pad for practicing with my new Pilot Flex Extra Fine Fountain Pen.

A plug here for the Rhodia pads. They are my favorite practice pads. I use the dot pads most often and sometimes the unlined pads. Rhodia pads also come in lined and grid patterns, but my favorite is the dot pad. The dots help me keep my writing in a straight line, but they don’t feel like they’re confining my writing. I like my calligraphy to have a little spring, more like a dance than being confined between lines.

I was told that with my Pilot Flex fountain pen, I can only use fountain pen ink. I was told not to even use Higgens Eternal or Noodlers inks in my pen. So, that is one limitation you need to be aware of. I am currently using Pelikan 4001 fountain pen ink. My local art store only had it in blue. I’ll be purchasing some Pelikan Fount India ink from John Neal Bookseller with my next order.

Happy writing, Candy

Painting Better Paintings Plein Air and in the Studio

Painting Better Paintings Plein Air and in the Studio presented by Master painter, teacher and host of The Grand View on PBS Stefan Baumann to a classes of his students. Baumann discusses lighting and effects that can be found in “The Night Watch” and Sargent’s “Madam X” and also what to look for in a great painting. you can get a free book by Baumann on Painting by going to www.StefanBaumann.com

The post Painting Better Paintings Plein Air and in the Studio appeared first on Stefan Baumann – The Grand View: Paintings by Stefan Baumann.